The Best Seafood in Town – Lim Hock Ann Seafood Restaurant
Lim Hock Ann Seafood Restaurant is in small fishing village called Buntal. This village is at the estuary of the Sarawak River near Kuching, the capital city of Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. It has been our “family kitchen” for more than 30 years. This unpretentious restaurant serves great and fresh seafood. Although it is an hour’s drive from the city centre, this restaurant is extremely popular. Even the “Good and the Great” of Kuching come here regularly. So what is the secret of the success of this restaurant?
Successful restaurants are usually located in places that are most convenient to the customers. Lim Hock Ann Seafood Restaurant is about 30 miles from the centre of Kuching City, about an hour’s drive away. It is quite a distance from the centre of the population. Yet it does not deter its regular customers. Malaysians will trek, hike, drive or paddle if they could sniff out a restaurant with great nosh.
Buntal is a fishing village and it has access to the best catch of the day. Its proximity to farms in the area means freshly harvested vegetables are readily available. This lends itself to easy supply of the best and freshest ingredients for the kitchen, not to mention the very good cooks who are able to capture the best flavours from the ingredients.
The restaurant is a simple wooden building structured over the edge of sea designed like a commodious sprawling platform. It is laid out with tables covered with faded cigarette-burnt red tablecloths and plastic chairs. It is an unpretentious no-frills outfit with no regards for design or ambience. You get what you see. But the sea breeze and the sea view make it a pleasant place to dine. Don’t be fooled by the non-salubrious look, for beneath that grubby exterior lies the magic of the wok that the chefs will unleash once it is fired up.
The prices may not be as competitive as the other restaurants in the village but it is considered cheaper than restaurants in Kuching City. We have been to the other restaurants in the village, although cheaper, the food is not a patch on Lim Hock Ann Seafood Restaurant. Our family has always considered this restaurant excellent value for money despite its distance. It is worth the trip.
Lim Hock Ann Seafood Restaurant does not advertise nor publicise itself on social media. Its popularity is purely by word of mouth and third party exposure on social media through its customers. It defies the textbook rule of marketing a restaurant –“location, location, location” and promotion. It relies purely on the reputation of serving fresh sincere delicious food. Because the food is so good, the customers come and enjoy the experience. It has been a thriving business for years yet it does not attempt to upgrade nor change the look of the restaurant. And its customers accept it warts and all.
As in any popular restaurant, when there is an influx of customers arriving at the same time, the quality of service tend to suffer. Over the years, members of our family have developed a clever plan to get the best out of this “hidden jewel”. To get round this, they arrive before the peak hours. Being in a fishing village, the best catch changes from day to day. They take advice from the staff for the freshest catch of the day. There have been comments that Lim Hock Ann Seafood Restaurant is expensive relative to the other restaurants in the area. Having tried the food at the other restaurants, they do not begrudge paying the extra for the quality and taste of the food.
Over the years with their regular visits and judiciously sampling the whole menu, they have a short-list of choice dishes that are on “standing order”. These dishes have never failed to satisfy the demanding palates of the family who are discerning about food; not to mention we have some great cooks in the family too. While other customers may ponder over the menu, the staff always serve the family first as they know their “usual”.
On our last visit recently, everyone enjoyed the feast from the treasures of the sea cooked in the indomitable style of this amazing restaurant. Here is a selection of the mouth-watering dishes on our menu to whet your appetite.
I am of the opinion that dining in a restaurant is a form of entertainment. What counts in the end is the enjoyment and satisfaction of the meal. This restaurant is about authentic honest-to-goodness food that takes one on an amazing culinary experience prepared by skilled and sincere chefs. That is why our family has treated this seafood restaurant as its kitchen for almost 4 decades. And that says a lot about a family of foodies and food critics!